Tamil Nadu men and women enter semifinals

R. Ramkumar must be a chagrined man even after Indian Railways' nail-biting 100-93 win over a spirited Delhi team in a men's quarterfinal match of the 62nd Senior National basketball championships here on Thursday.

The chief coach must be scratching his head as to what should he do to make his team, which has been pretty unconvincing so far, to attain higher consistency levels. The victory was attained at extra-time after the teams were tied at 85-all after regulation time.

Arduous contests

Almost every contest in the Nationals here has been quite arduous for Railways, the defending champion. Its lowest point emerged when it allowed even Andhra Pradesh to dictate terms before it pulled up its socks.

Against hot favourite Punjab in the semifinals, Railways would have to be on its toes. Railways was quick off the blocks taking a 9-0 lead within four minutes, and ended the first quarter at 25-14. Then began Delhi's extraordinary comeback. For more than six minutes in the second quarter, with the scoreboard at 29-20, Delhi didn't allow the former champion any leeway and with Pravin Doval and Vinay Kaushin controlling the proceedings with brilliant lay-ups and drive-ins, it finally equalised.

At half-time, Railways had a slender one-point lead (39-38).

Sensational climax

The fourth quarter could be termed a sensational climax. There were many twists and turns. With twelve seconds remaining, Delhi made it 85-all through Vinay Kaushin's free throw. Gagandeep Singh was consistent in offensive rebounds and in free throws in extra-time and that primarily carried the team home.

Exciting match

In an exciting match, Tamil Nadu men pulled off a fantastic 56-54 victory over Uttarakhand to reach the semifinals. It was a commendablecomeback by the host after trailing 7-19 in the first and 19-35 in the second quarters.

If Abhilek Paul's three pointer in the third quarter reduced the lead, then ball handler P. Akilan's direction and Raghu Ram's consistency in two pointers were instrumental in TN being in the hunt.

Raghu Ram put TN in the lead (54-52) with a courageous two pointer and then converting a free throw off a foul resulting off the basket.

The results (quarterfinals):

Men: Tamil Nadu 56 (Raghu Ram 14, Rikin Pethani 14) bt Uttarakhand 54 (M. Anoop 11, R. Murali Krishna 25).

Services 88 (Joginder Singh 11, Narender Kumar Grewal 22, Dalip Kumar 20, Praveen Kumar 24) bt Kerala 77 (Abhilash TS 14, Monish Wilson 17, Ajit VG 19).

Punjab 117 (Talwinder Singh 26, Amritpal Singh Jr. 23) bt Haryana 59 (Deepak Rathee 28, Hemant Sheoran 11).

Indian Railways 100 (Prakash Mishra 23, Gagandeep Singh 32, Dilawar Singh 18) bt Delhi 93 (Pravin Doval 32, Vinay Kaushin 16, Sachin Sharma 13, Pardeep Kumar 16).

Women: Indian Railways 102 (S. Kokila 16, Renu Maurya 14, Harjeet Kaur 14) bt Karnataka 32.

Chhattisgarh 78 (L. Deepa 15, Kavita 23, Seema Singh 18) bt Kerala 65 (Soniya Joy 11, Seena Joseph 10, P.S. Jeena 13).

Delhi 76 (Sonika Ohliyan 12, Pratima Singh 30, Prashanti Singh 17) bt UP 49 (Ranjana Singh 21).

Tamil Nadu 79 (Shyamala Suguna Jothi 11, Alagu Tamil Mozhi 12, Neena Hareendran 18) bt Maharashtra 51 (Shireen Limaye 12, Kritika Divadkar 11).

Semifinal line-up:

Men: Punjab vs Indian Railways; Tamil Nadu vs Services.

Women: Tamil Nadu vs Indian Railways; Delhi vs Chhattisgarh.